Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 13, 2014

Google Glass for Use in Cancer Care

Ok, Google Glass just got a little less dorky. Where the device has fought a reputation (at the worst) as a slightly creepy option for people to watch and record others, and (at the best) as a toy for the nerdiest of tech nerds, physicians are putting the device to a use everyone can applaud. Doctors in the Oncology Department at Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit, MI have purchased two of the high-tech eyewear devices to provide increased monitoring of post-surgical patients.

The Glass’ will be put to the test in the Head and Neck portion of the Oncology department where patients’ undergo micro vascular tissue transfer surgery to create a flap of tissue to be used in later reconstruction. After the flap is created, bloodflow to the tissue must be monitored constantly; a nurse checks it every hour and physician every four hours. Catching any issues early is critical since the chances of saving the tissue diminish drastically once problems begin.

Google Glass devices contain a processer, display screen, touchpad and most importantly for the hospital a high definition camera. Previously any problems or concern s would need to be described to the surgeon on the phone but the glasses will provide the ability for doctors to visually monitor patients remotely.

"We plan on utilizing Google Glass to transmit and record the status of the flap between resident physicians and their supervising physicians," said Sagar Patel, M.D., resident with the Head and Neck Oncology Team at Karmanos. "Instead of transmitting this data verbally over the phone, an attempt to visually transmit data 'face to face' will occur."

Because these cancers impact the head, neck, face and jaw there are high stakes. The ability to eat and speak as well as appearance can be permanently impacted. Tissue transfer procedures are effective but the challenges of treating a patient already dealing with cancer complicates the process. “These patients are often very sick at the time of surgery,” said Dr. Patel. “Their cancer often prevents them from receiving adequate nutrition and hydration.  In addition to that, these patients undergo long and extensive surgeries. Having the highest-quality communication is an invaluable asset in a patient's post-operative care."

The team at Barbara Ann Karmanos is pioneering this use of Google Glass and will be documenting the technology fully including ease of use as well as effectiveness in patient care.

Google has had its share of controversy over privacy concerns in the past year or so. We have to believe they’re all hoping for this to be a good fit for putting a positive spin on Google Glass.

Want to learn more about the latest in wearable technology? Be sure to attend Wearable Tech Expo, July 23 & 24 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.  Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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